When Feedburner was acquired by Google in mid-2007, we were all excited about the potential. As time passed and Google really started to own and better develop its vision for the tool, Feedburner became more and more useful. But with the recent focus on link wheels and automatic updates, chances are Feedburner is killing your SEO strategy without you knowing it.
What is Feedburner?
Feedburner is simply a free online service created by Google that allows you to automatically send email updates from your blog. Updates are sent via an RSS feed reader or by email. Feedburner provides you with personalized tools to promote your feed.
For example, they have an email subscription widget that you can easily add to your blog sidebar. You can easily log into the Feedburner interface and see how many people are following your blog, that’s good too.
Power Burner Advantages
Feedburner has advantages. In fact, people are ranting and raving about the promotional tool. Here are some of the reasons why people love Feedburner.
- Users are updated whenever a new blog goes live
- Feedburner promotes repeat visitors and blog loyalty
- The service is free and easy to set up
- You can track your followers
- Email delivery can be customized to match brand appearance
- Content distribution increases the chances of sharing on social networks
- Email subscription widget is easy to install
OK, so now that we’ve defined the service and listed some benefits, let’s dive into a scam that many people aren’t aware of, the negative effect it can have on SEO.
How Feedburner Harms Search Engine Optimization
If you work in SEO or marketing in general, you’re probably familiar with the idea of a connecting wheel.
To elaborate for the sake of clarity, a link wheel is simply the idea that every time you post content, that content is distributed to several other online properties in order to generate backlinks to the original content. From an SEO perspective, this is clearly beneficial as each post generates tens to hundreds of backlinks pointing to your website.
There are many important things to consider when creating link wheels – anchor text, landing site page rankings, keywords for which ranking sites are visible, time between updates to ranking sites, level of unique content published on ranking sites, etc. right now.
While that’s the case, none of that will matter if you’re using Feedburner. In fact, your link wheel will be ineffective for SEO purposes. And those RSS feed links, which you’ve worked so hard to add to Squidoo Pages, Hub Pages, get approved by AllTop, and power external blogs, won’t count for anything.
The problem with Feedburner is inherent in the name, so it burns (or modifies) your RSS feed and funnels it through a Google-enhanced URL. Emphasis on “Google Enhanced URL.”
For example, initially, your main RSS feed URL would look like this:
The links listed in your RSS feed would simply be the links to the blog posts you publish:
But when you burn your RSS feed using Feedburner, the main URL looks like this:
And the single post URL would look like this:
So why is it important? Well, think about it. Of course, it’s great that this link is live on other sites. Maybe someone will subscribe to your RSS feed as a result and you might even get referral site traffic. But should you rely on getting link juice from this link? (See Editor’s Notes below.)
The beauty of RSS feed-enabled link wheels is that they allow you to continually get new links to your site every time you post a new post. If you use FeedBurner, these posts will not support your SEO. This is definitely something to keep in mind when considering whether or not to use the service.
The solution to FeedBurner
If you use FeedBurner, there is of course still hope. The solution is actually quite simple. Simply create more than one RSS feed! This solution will actually result in a better RSS syndication strategy for you in the long run.
I hope your blog or website has individual categories. Assuming these categories are keyword specific, you can create RSS feeds promoting content from each category. You can then filter these RSS feeds into thematic objectives or profiles, without using FeedBurner, of course for the reasons given. This will result in more relevant profile RSS updates and better backlinks that are more specific to individual sections of content.
Now that you have keyword-specific RSS feeds supporting your link wheel strategy, you are free to use Feedburner to support your main RSS feed. Just make sure you don’t use Feedburner feeds on external sites. Unless your goal is to grow your FeedBurner subscriber base, which is a valid strategy, you won’t fully support your SEO goals.
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Note to editors: As mentioned in the comments below, there is a way to disable redirection in FeedBurner which would fix the above issues. Beyond that, since 2009 Feedburner does 301 redirecting for all URLs (FeedBurner Goes 301 All The Way), meaning link juice passes FeedBurner URLs (and that was an option before 2009 ).
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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